Camp Hale timber sale in the works |

Camp Hale timber sale in the works

Cliff Thompson

Man will finish off what pine beetles have started on 170 acres south of Red Cliff.

There the U.S. Forest Service is examining a logging operation this summer and next that will remove up to 500,000 board feet of lodgepole pines along the No-Name Gulch area. That wood, worth up to $40,000, is enough for 25 homes.

The cutting will consist of thinning and some small-block clearcutting of trees that are dead and those that beetles have bored into and soon will die. Those dead and dying trees can create a fire hazard.

The Forest Service is seeking comments from forest users and others about the proposal to help judge the environmental consequences of logging in the area.

The small-block clearcuts will be up to 1.5 acres in size, while the thinning will occur in beetle-damaged stands where tree diameters are nine inches or greater. Pine beetles lay eggs that develop into larvae which bore beneath the bark of the tree and kill it.

When lodgepole pines aren’t regularly burned over by wildfire they become over-mature and are more vulnerable to attacks by bugs and disease.

The area is a “hot spot” for mountain pine beetles, said Bob Currie of the Forest Service. “If we open it up a bit by thinning, the remaining trees are better able to resist the beetles and it slows the spread,” he said. Cutting trees can also encourage the more fire-resistant aspens to grow.

No new permanent roads will be built by loggers, who will create temporary roads that will be destroyed once the logging is done, Forest Service documents indicate.

There’s also infestation of another type there -dwarf mistletoe – a parasitic growth often called “witch’s broom.” It attaches to tree limbs and trunks and weakens a tree by absorbing its life-giving sap. Currie said trees afflicted with mistletoe may be more subject to beetle attacks. Trees covering about 10 acres in the No Name area have mistletoe infestations.

The Forest Services lists promoting forest health, reducing fire hazard, improving watershed conditions and creating diversity of forested lands as some of the objectives of the project.

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